Lessons Of A Lifetime

SUNDAY OCT. 7, 2018

Scripture To Consider:
“There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.’ Nicodemus said to Him, ‘How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb and be born?’”

“Jesus answered, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, “You must be born again.” The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.’

“Nicodemus answered and said to Him, ‘How can these things be?’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Are you a teacher of Israel, and do not know these things? Most assuredly, I say to you, We [God the Father and I] speak what we know and testify what We have seen, and you do not receive Our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’ John 3.1-15

Something To Consider:
There are those who think less of Nicodemus for his coming to Jesus at night. Fortunately, Jesus is not as short sighted as most men. He looks well beyond what we are and what we do or think in order to see what we can become by our coming to Him. Yes, we must be born again spiritually according to the words of Christ! But coming to Jesus is our first step. And also, according to Jesus, unless one is born again, he or she cannot see, much less enter the kingdom of God.

The apostle Peter writing in his first letter in chapter 1, discussed a born again believer’s heavenly inheritance, and the importance of the enduring Word of God, and its spiritual role in our lives as Christians. Beginning in verse 22, Peter proclaimed, “Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the Word of God which lives and abides forever, because ‘All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away, but the Word of the LORD endures forever.’ Now this is the Word which by the gospel was preached to you.”

If we are truly born again we were born again by the incorruptible Word of God which is living and powerful and abides forever and which is Jesus Christ. This is the Word which by the gospel was and is being preached to you and to me! And if we are not hearing the true gospel of the Word of God preached, then we are being deceived and may be guilty of deceiving others! There is a fine line between the whole truth of the true gospel and the half-truths of the false teachings of many false prophets in these end times. Is what we are listening to the divine Word of God or is it a denial of the truth of God’s Word?

Something Else To Consider:
Nicodemus, whose name means victory of the people, at first glance could only see Jesus as a teacher come from God. He would eventually understand that he had spoken to Immanuel; God with us. In time Nicodemus learned many lessons of a lifetime as it pertained to Jesus. As we glance ahead in time to John’s gospel chapter 19, beginning with verse 38, we see Nicodemus in a much different light. He no longer is coming to Jesus under the cover of darkness but out in the open under the scrutiny of Christ’s murderous enemies.

In John 19 Jesus was betrayed by Judas Iscariot, arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, stood before the high priest and Pilate, was denied by Peter three times, was exchanged  for Barabbas a convicted criminal, was cruelly mocked and beaten by soldiers, and finally was crucified. And John wrote in verse 38, “After this, Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews [Jewish religious leaders], asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took the body of Jesus.”

Then John added beginning in verse 39 of John 19, “And Nicodemus, who at first came to Jesus by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds. Then they [Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus] took the body of Jesus, and bound it in strips of linen with the spices, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.” And under the watchful eyes of every enemy of Jesus and what He stood for and stood against these two one-time secret disciples stepped out from the shadows of the established organized religion that had crucified Christ and they stood up for truth and righteousness even at the extreme personal cost to them and to their families. But in the end, they did the right thing! In the end will we too do the right thing?

What is it that we will do when the fire of end time persecution is fanned by the established one world religion and it unleashes all of its power and persuasion to force the world’s occupants to align with the Antichrist or else? What will we do when we no longer can drive to the grocery store and simply purchase a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk because we no longer have access to the one world financial system devoted to only those who have allowed themselves to be labeled as loyal followers of the Antichrist by taking his mark? Now is the time to make our decision, not then!

Something More To Consider:
So this Nicodemus of our text, who first came to Jesus by night, in the end came to Jesus in plain view of the high priest, Pilate, the soldiers, and every enemy of Jesus. Nicodemus showed his love, devotion, and respect to the Word of God come in the flesh, of whom had totally changed Nicodemus by what appears to be a true born again experience. Nicodemus displayed a true faith with works and the true fruit of real repentance, but it probably cost him everything of earthly value by doing so.

But what is our loyalty to Christ worth to us in this 21st century? What will we be willing to place on the line for Jesus Christ in the end? Before we decide, let us consider what it was that Jesus sacrificed for us! Jesus said a person must be spiritually born-again or he or she cannot see the kingdom of God, much less enter. It was unthinkable that a religious ruler could be excluded from entering the kingdom of God. The apostle Paul later explained in 1 Corinthians 2.14; “But the natural man [not spiritually born-again person] does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Nicodemus, a religious leader in Israel was born blind to the truth and simplicity of God’s Word. Jesus came to open the eyes of the spiritually blind and ears of the spiritual deaf. He came to reveal God the Father’s will and plan of redemption. But Jesus was more than a teacher come from God. He was also God come in the flesh who came to teach the ways of God and the way to God. What therefore have we learned from the gospel teachings of Jesus? What is it that we have or have not learned concerning the gospel of enduring to the end, abiding in Christ, obeying His conditional commands, and observing all things Jesus taught?

A Few Final Words:
According to Jesus, “Most assuredly, unless one is born again, he [or she] cannot see the kingdom of God.” And because of this message being eternally important, Jesus repeated Himself, by declaring, “You must be born again.” And Jesus added, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whosoever believes [present tense] in Him [in Jesus] should not perish but have eternal life.”

Have we, you and I, believed in Jesus, both as a teacher come from God and as God come to teach the eternal point of our being born again? This born-again teaching is according to Jesus. Therefore, we cannot simply disregard it along with other difficult to understand by some teachings. Great leaders are teachers who inspire others, while both leader and learner climb the ladder of true spiritual wisdom and understanding. “This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’”

Our Father in heaven, create in us a hunger and thirsting to be taught the truth of Your Word. Teach us to have teachable spirits. In Him Always, Amen!

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